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Unknown story of the Gallivan family

A surprise letter opens up a new chapter in the Unknown Stories of WNY and a trip down memory lane.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As we always say, history is all around us, and I have a story that hits very close to home. A glimpse of my father years before I was even thought of and a trip down memory lane.

The story began with a surprise letter, unlocking a bit of Gallivan family history. The letter brought me to South Buffalo and the former home of my grandparents. A house I haven't set foot in since 1987.

The current owners, Maureen O'Neill and Kevin Higgins sent me the letter and gave me my first peek inside in more than three decades. Sure some things have changed, like bedrooms in what was an attic space upstairs, and two bedrooms on the first floor opened up to create a family room. But a lot of this house that was such a big part of my childhood was amazingly similar. The classic leaded glass, the brick fireplace and the dining room where we all gathered for holiday dinners.

Now back to why they reached out in the first place. The discovery of an artifact. O'Neill described what happened. 

"I was hanging up a picture and hammering the nail into the wall, Kev was downstairs in the basement," O'Neill said.

Higgins adds, "I come down one day and a bunch of lathe was on the chair and the report card." 

A report card, my father's report card from the New York State College for Teachers at Buffalo, NY, what we now know as Buff State. 

"So it was obviously hidden up there, like a time capsule," Higgins said.

It illustrates his academic performance from 1951-1953 and perhaps why he stuck it in the rafters, a couple D's and a few C's. But the report card was no indication of what was to come, my dad served as an officer in the Navy and then had a long successful career as an art teacher in Williamsville.

That report card was not the only bit of my father that remains all these years later. Large scale drawings that he had done on the basement walls were also still partially visible behind a set of cupboards. And O'Neill also found a 1941 Christmas card addressed to my grandma and a comic book that dates back to 1944. I came away with what I can only describe as an unknown story of the Gallivan family.

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